Senator Gray Tollison chose not to pick up SB 2623 on deadline day, which could mean it will die without any action being taken to put it into law.
This is what Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves had to say on killing the the ESA School Choice bill:
“Over the past seven years, Mississippi has made tremendous strides in providing parents a choice in their children’s education. I appreciate the parents who have shared stories about how their children are flourishing in new classroom environments because they have the ability to choose a school that best fits their needs. Unfortunately, Senate Bill 2623, which expanded access to educational savings accounts to more parents and students, did not survive today’s legislative deadline because there is not enough support in the House at this time. We need to continue to educate legislators, in both chambers and in both political parties, on the success Mississippi parents have seen in the current ESA program and how school choice will have long-term benefits to our state.”
Members of the House, including Speaker of the House Philip Gunn, were not enthused about the reasoning for the decision too let the bill die.
“This is the second time this year that such an attempt was made (blaming the House for legislation dying in Senate)….first with the lottery and now ESAs,” said Speaker of the House Philip Gunn. “This is laughable. If that’s true, then the House of Representatives is driving this train. Or, it’s an incredibly weak excuse for the Senate to get its work done.”
Speaker Gunn continued “I don’t think they brought up the bill for a vote, that’s not how we operate. If my caucus wants to do something, we do something. I have no idea if we had the support (when asked about support for ESAs on House side). It was never discussed on our end.”
The Speaker continued saying he was never informed of where the House votes would go on the school choice issue, but since those who worked on the bill were in the Senate and they chose not to bring it up, it seems as though they didn’t have the votes to pass it.
“My goal is to give every child in Mississippi an opportunity for success regardless of their zip code or what their parents do for a living. Through school choice, increased investment in classrooms, and raising the achievement level of our students, we will see a stronger workforce and more economic growth in Mississippi’s future,” said Reeves.
Empower Mississippi was also disappointed in the Senate’s decision not to take up the legislation:
“We are disappointed that the legislature chose not to take up SB 2623 today. For years, our state leaders have talked about the need to provide parents with more school choice opportunities, but when they have had the opportunity to advance legislation that would further that goal, progress has been far too slow. While the ESA expansion will not happen this session, the fight is not over. It will continue until every family in Mississippi can choose the right educational setting for their child.”